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Rooted in creativity and entrepreneurialism

Young businesswoman credits a belief in self for her businesses’ success

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September 8, 2022

TWO RIVERS – Whether it was a Kool-Aid stand in her front yard, reselling candy bars at school or dabbling in duct tape art, bracelet-making or painting, it’s safe to say entrepreneurialism was a part of Emilee Rysticken’s life from an early age.

The 21-year-old Two Rivers native, who now owns multiple Northeast Wisconsin businesses, said she lets her passions and zest for trying new things lead her, which she said has thus far served her well.

Rysticken currently owns two Scream ‘N Conuts ice cream shops – the original in her hometown of Two Rivers and the second in Suamico.

In addition, she said she’s in the process of renovating a former Two Rivers car wash into her vision of a coffee shop and community space.

The young go-getter credits much of her success to her drive and nature to seek out new challenges and creative outlets.
“I’ve always been willing to dabble in new things,” Rysticken said. “That’s part of why college and committing to one career sounded awful to me. Right now, in my business, I am painting a mural, doing (hands-on) construction renovation, social media marketing, graphic design, scheduling, finances and a large array of other things, including starting a whole new business. And I like it that way. I don’t think I’d be happy any other way.”

Rysticken said she is always looking for creative inspiration – whether it’s checking out businesses’ packaging and logos in the grocery store or inspecting ceilings in offices.

She said a high school trip to Prague provided her with the concept for her first business, the Scream ‘N Conuts ice cream shop located at 1200 Washington St. in Two Rivers.
Emilee Rysticken

“I found the idea for the ‘conut’ on a trip to Prague the summer after my freshman year,” Rysticken said. “It is a traditional European treat called a chimney cake. I came home telling everyone about my business idea.”

Rysticken said she researched “chimney cake” to find equipment and a recipe.

A conut, she said, is donut dough that is rolled around a cone mold, covered in sugar, baked and covered in cinnamon and sugar, and then filled with a customer’s choice from an assortment of Cedar Crest Ice Cream.

Before she knew it, Rysticken said her vision became a reality, opening the ice cream shop in mid-June 2019, just days after walking across the stage at her high school graduation ceremony.

“I have always been impulsive, but I knew what I wanted to do and did it,” she said. “I thought, ‘Why spend so much money on college, when I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, when I could do this?’”

A long journey
Though building on her own work experience and taking a cue from her parents growing up, Rysticken said business ownership has been a learning journey all its own.

She said she has always had side jobs – be it dog walking or babysitting – and started her first “real job” at 15.
Throughout high school, Rysticken said she juggled work, sports practice and work at a coffee shop.

“It’s been that way ever since, and not something I am forcing myself to do,” she said. “It’s something I want to do.”
That being said, Rysticken said business ownership has been a whole new type of journey.

During Scream ‘N Conuts’ first week, she said the storefront was busy as many locals from her community of 11,000 came to try the doughnut cones they had heard so much about.

Rysticken said the shop’s traffic spiked following a television news story.

“Every other person who came in said, ‘We saw you on the news, and we drove from ‘X’ to try a conut,’” Rysticken said. “It also felt like everyone from Wisconsin came in as well.”

Opening in the summer, she said – a time when people who take the meandering way to Door County make stops in communities such as Two Rivers – also helped heighten Scream ‘N Conuts’ exposure.

Scream ‘N Conuts’ ice cream flights include four different flavors of ice cream with cut-up conut pieces. Submitted Photo

Rysticken said she learned on her feet, be it hiring employees, processing payroll, inventory management or social media management.

“Everything was a business lesson,” she said. “I had never taken a business class, so I learned on the fly. The biggest thing I learned is that you’re always going to be learning and making mistakes, and I don’t sweat it. If I make a mistake, I think, ‘Alright, I’ll never do that again,’ and I roll with it.”

Rysticken said her first summer taught her how seemingly-small things can be big – for example, when she opened, the store offered a kid’s conut and a regular conut.

However, with lines out the door, and a tendency to run low on one size or the other, she made the decision to focus on just one size with the option to add a single, double or triple scoop of ice cream.

“That changed my business, and made it easier, as it was impossible to keep up with the different sizes,” she said. “There are 100 different things like that you learn as you go.”

Second location
Rysticken said in 2019, she was approached with the idea of opening a second location in Vickery Village in Suamico, and went for it, opening the location in July 2021.

Between the two locations, she said Scream ‘N Conuts now employs 20-25 people to serve at the seasonal business that operates from May through September, selling more than 100 conuts daily.

Rysticken said even the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow business down, as so much of the business could be performed through drive-thru/takeout.

“I try to keep things interesting,” she said. “Every year, we introduce new products. Last year, we did flight boards (four different flavors of ice cream with cut-up conut). This year, we introduced ice cream cookies and some new events with musicians and coffee trucks. I try to keep things fresh, so it’s more than just ‘business as usual.’”

Rysticken said she also offers stickers and custom vinyl cups – items she makes herself, which she said is another passion of hers.

Next adventure
These days, Rysticken’s creative side has a new outlet – remodeling a former car wash into a coffee shop and community space, which she describes as the “passion project of her dreams” – combining all the things that have grown close to her heart in her lifetime: graphic design, coffee, cars, flipping old buildings, plants, Instagram-worth aesthetics and business.

“This is going to be a space created from the most genuine place in my heart,” she said.

Donut dough that is rolled around a cone mold, covered in sugar,
baked and then filled with ice cream. Submitted Photo

Rysticken said it has required a lot of physical hard work, but she’s excited to incorporate elements of coffee shops she’s visited around the world into this project.

Though the remodeling – which will include two, 52-foot murals on both sides of the tunnel, glass garage doors, outdoor seating with picnic tables and a fenced-in dog area – is happening during the ice cream shops’ busiest time, Rysticken said her and her dad are often there doing something.

“There’s no other place in Two Rivers to sit outside on a patio like that, besides my ice cream shop, to enjoy the weather, and we’ll even have a lawn so customers will be able to lay out a blanket and sit on it,” she said. “It’s such a big property, and since we’re only going to do coffee, it will give us an opportunity for a lot of social gathering.”

Taking pause to reflect on the journey that got her here, Rysticken said several factors have made her a successful entrepreneur – including her creativity, a willingness to make mistakes and a belief in self, as well as having strong opinions and sticking with them.

“If I want to do something, I know I will do it – even the ‘crazy ideas’ – regardless of what anyone says,” she said. “You can’t let the great ideas sit in your head too long, thinking about what could go wrong or second-guessing yourself. The only person holding you back is yourself. Be practical, but if you can cover the bases, believe in yourself and go for it.”

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